New Delhi: The Centre has roped in IIT
Roorkee and Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India to
assess the feasibility of the proposed hydel projects on the
Bhagirathi and Alaknanda rivers in Uttarakhand.
The move comes against the backdrop of agitations by
activists both for and against the projects on Bhagirathi.
While some activists have raised ecological concerns, some
others are favouring the project for the state which is facing
acute power crunch.
Pointing out that environmental impact assessments of
individual projects on the rivers have been made on a
stand-alone basis, the Environment Ministry today said that a
comprehensive study need to be undertaken of the series of
proposed thermal power plants -- those planned, under
implementation or operational.
"It has been decided that a comprehensive study may be
undertaken on the likely cumulative impact of the projects on
the flow and character of the river.
"The study would inter alia, determine the requirement of
minimum flow from the proposed and already commissioned hydro
electric projects on these rivers in their entire stretch," a
statement from the ministry said.
This was decided at a meeting chaired by Environment
Secretary Vijai Sharma recently after he noted that cumulative
environmental impact of various projects on the riverine
ecosystem in general and terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity,
in particular, should be taken into account. He said
compliance of the stipulated conditions on which various
projects have earlier been cleared needs to be assessed.
The mandate of the study include assessment of cumulative
impact of all hydroelectric projects proposed or established
on river Alaknanda and Bhagirathi upto Devprayag.
"Whether the acceptable limits of geomorphologic
stability or of environmental sustainability, particularly of
environmental flows, are likely to exceed at any small or
large hydropower project site(s).
"Whether there will be a depletion of irrigation
potential or availability of drinking water in habitations as
a result of any project and their impact on ground water and
springs in the basin as well on places of cultural, religious
or tourism importance will be the term of reference of the
study" the statement added.
While IIT has been asked to finalise its report within
six months, the WII has been asked to do so within next two
months on the broad impact on the ecology of the surrounding